People of all ages can have dysgraphia. Dysgraphia is a specific learning disorder that is related to written expression. This neurological disorder causes an individual’s writing to be inaccurate or appear distorted. Problems that people with dysgraphia experience can range from issues with the organization of words and the inability to express themselves in written form. They may also have issues directly related to the physical act of writing.
Is Dysgraphia a Common Neurological Disorder?
Yes, according to researchers, up to 20% of people have some form of dysgraphia. The neurodevelopmental form of this disorder is seen more frequently in children who are assigned male at birth (AMAB) than those assigned female at birth (AFAB).
What Are the Symptoms of Dysgraphia?
When a child has this disorder it typically becomes evident when he or she is introduced to writing (i.e., around the age of 5). This form of the disorder is referred to as developmental dysgraphia.
Symptoms associated with developmental dysgraphia include:
- Writing letters of inappropriate size.
- Using incorrect spacing.
- Problems with grammar.
- Frequent misspelling of words.
- Difficulty with fine motor coordination.
- Writing speed.
- Poor sentence structure.
- Using the wrong word despite receiving detailed instructions (e.g., using boy for child).
Developmental dysgraphia may be accompanied by other learning disabilities. Nonetheless, these children usually do not experience any problems in relation to their social interactions.
Another form of dysgraphia arises following trauma to the brain (e.g., injuries sustained during a vehicle accident or a fall). This form of the disorder is referred to as acquired dysgraphia.
What Makes the Process of Writing So Complex?
The act of writing is complex because it requires the individual to use numerous skills and brain functions.
The skills and functions required to write successfully include:
- Creating, storing and then recalling numbers, letters and symbols (i.e., orthographic coding).
- Language processing.
- Fine motor skills.
- The ability to perceive the space that surrounds them (i.e., spatial perception).
Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Dysgraphia
Having one of the signs listed below does not necessarily mean that an individual has dysgraphia. However, if a child is experiencing difficulty learning the basic writing skills that are suitable for his or her age, parents should seek assistance from a speech language pathologist (SLP) at Therapeutic Potentials, Inc. (TPI). Our medical professionals can evaluate the child to see if he or she needs assistance in specific areas.
A child may have dysphagia if he or she:
- Is having trouble remembering how to form letters.
- Has difficulty writing words in a straight line.
- Places words in a sentence incorrectly.
- Writes letters backwards.
- Finds holding and controlling writing tools a challenge.
- Neglects to use pronouns and verbs correctly.
- Is confused about when to use letters in upper or lower case.
- Randomly omits words from sentences.
- Struggles with creating sentences that have the correct punctuation and grammar.
What Causes Developmental Dysgraphia?
Developmental dysgraphia seems to be hereditary, which means that people who have a family member with dysgraphia are at a higher risk for having this disorder. Dysgraphia is commonly seen in children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Diagnosing and Treating Dysgraphia
At TPI, a team of medical professionals assesses the patient’s:
- Learning strengths.
- Learning weaknesses.
- Type and extent of writing difficulties.
- Educational history.
- Another factor taken into consideration is how effective any previous targeted therapy was for the patient.
Since there are no medications available for the treatment of dysphagia, educational interventions are used to teach the patient new ways to write more effectively.
At Therapeutic Potentials, Inc., therapists create patients individualized education plans (IEP).
Potential treatments for dysphagia include:
- Placing a focus on the patient’s ability to control his or her writing movements.
- Addressing any problems that contribute to a patient’s poor memory, including neurological issues.
- To avoid the problems associated with handwriting, patients may be advised to use the computer.
Educational intervention categories:
The child can access the mainstream education curriculum with the addition of support or assistive resources without the need to change the educational content.
The school adapts to the child’s objectives and goals, with an individualized education plan and provides him or her with services designed to decrease the effects of dysgraphia (e.g., the child answers questions verbally, instead of writing them).
The school provides the child with specific interventions designed to reduce the severity of dysgraphia.
Parents need to work with the school and their child’s speech therapist pathologist to determine which form of dysgraphia treatment will serve their child best.
What Is the Prognosis for a Child With Dysgraphia?
The ability to write effectively is an essential academic skill. Therefore, if a child’s dysgraphia is not diagnosed and treated, he or she struggles to thrive in school. In addition, the child may be labeled as lazy and sloppy, which can negatively affect his or her self-esteem. Receiving support from teachers and loved ones can be helpful with overcoming these obstacles.
If you think your child may have dysgraphia, contact TPI today at 941-758-3140 to schedule an appointment for an evaluation. Therapeutic Potentials, Inc. serves children who reside in Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida, as well as surrounding areas. If you prefer, you can use our online contact form to communicate with us.